Category Archives: Study Abroad

Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad? More than you can count!

Studying abroad is, in short, an experience unlike any other. Hearing the
enthusiastic accounts of students who have studied abroad in the past is only the tipping
point of the true joy that spending time in a new place can bring. It’s only natural to hear
study abroad being described as something that will “change your life,” or “broaden your
horizon.” While these phrases may seem routine and overused, the realization of how

Learning the various ways to spell my name, Kaitlin, in a calligraphy class in Japan

true these words are only come with taking a step out of your comfort zone and going abroad.  As an example, after having spent two months in Okinawa, Japan with student  exchange organization called Youth for Understanding, I learned first-hand how these phrases are indispensable and in many ways, define my experiences overseas. One aspect of studying abroad that those who have gone abroad often gloss over, however, is the academic component. Going overseas may seem like a fun vacation during much of the time that one is away from home, but there are indeed many academic benefits.

For a student of foreign language and culture, the academic aspect of going abroad may not always be immediately apparent, especially when you’re surrounded by some of
the many beauties of a new place. Overall, the main and most important word in study abroad is study. During the time away, you must be proactive in keeping up with the classes you have to take. One thing to emphasize, however, is that learning can take place in so many more places that the classroom. This is the main reason why I believe study abroad should be a main component for those specializing in these particular subjects. Living day-to-day as a native will truly be instrumental in the learning process.

As mentioned, it is imperative that students of foreign languages and cultures go
abroad. Whether it be for a summer, a semester, or an entire year, missing that chance
would be especially disappointing. Going to a new country, especially a country with the
target language or culture you are studying is unforgettable. Speaking the language you’ve
been studying with natives, seeing right in front you the sights you’ve only seen in
pictures, and tasting the food you’ve only heard about creates an indescribable sense of
happiness and accomplishment. In fact, these types of adventures are some of the most
important for a foreign language and cultures student to take part in. Being able to test
one’s skills and improve all while being allowed to absorb culture all at the same time is
something that I think is quite beautiful. On the other side of this, the study abroad
experience won’t always be so exciting. There will surely be days when you will be
frustrated with your own language skills and may even get tired of the new sights and
foods that you were once so adamant about seeing and trying. These, however, are normal emotions, and need to be felt. I find that these feelings will, contrary to popular belief, make one even stronger in their pursuits of learning languages and cultures. No matter what, the
opportunity to study abroad is not to be missed. By the time of your departure back home,
not only will you have learned so much, but you may even have one of the exciting,
seemingly never-ending stories that previous students who studied abroad always have!



Buggy in Berlin: Lucy

 I never thought I’d have to google translate the word for nit to explain to a German woman how I’d unintentionally infected her home with lice, but there I was, doing just that. 

I’d been working at a kids’ summer camp in Clarkston, Georgia; carrying this kid and that kid on my back around the playground. Not surprisingly, but unbeknownst to me at the time, the sweet children gave me lice.

A picnic overlooking the Bavarian countryside with Angie and her parents

It was nearly a month later when I realized, and by that time I was in Straubing, Germany; a 

remote town in the Bavarian countryside. I was visiting my friend Angie, who I’d met two years before when my high school did an exchange program. Her mom searched my head quickly, and declared that I just had dandruff; Angie acting as translator throughout.

I knew I had lice. I knew it. In two days I was leaving Angie’s family to go to Berlin for a month long study abroad program, so instead of trying to argue with Angie’s mom – who did not speak good English and I did not speak German – I let it go. I would figure it out in Berlin. 

My Berlin host mom was named Monteserrat and she and her nineteen year old daughter Dena were heavenly. Monteserrat also didn’t speak much English while Dena did, but our dynamic was entirely opposite of that of Angie and her mother. We all spoke German; always, with few exceptions. At first, my German was shaky; I wasn’t confident in my abilities and it took me awhile to pull the words I knew from my memory. 

Still, Monteserrat was patient and encouraging. Even when I admitted my lice problem with poor German, she kept her cool, which is more than I could’ve said for myself if I had been in her shoes. 

Monteserrat and me on a day trip to Pfaueninsel – Peacock Island

Throughout the month, after I got rid of the lice, of course, continually speaking German caused my confidence to grow exponentially. Repeating the same sentence structures, and hearing them returned, drilled them into my memory. I was also taking German classes during the program which assisted my success, but they in no way compared to communicating with my host family. I realized that I could take as many German (or Spanish, or any other language) classes as possible, but nothing would educate better than immersing myself in the culture of my target language. Out in the world, problems are thrown at you which no practiced class conversation can prepare you for – like confessing a lice infestation. Yes, it was stressful, but my language skills are stronger for it. I’m stronger for it. 

As well, study abroad experiences can offer students more than just the opportunity to immerse themselves in their target language. With Angie and her family, I didn’t speak any German. I should have, and I missed out on that chance to push myself. Nonetheless, Angie and her family showed me a culture different from my own, which sparked my interest. From there, my excitement to learn more German, to visit again, to learn more about other languages and other cultures skyrocketed.

Study abroad takes foreign language students out of the classroom and into the community, where they can struggle to communicate and experience cultural differences, to expand their language skills and their knowledge of the greater world.

How Study Abroad Enhances Academic Experiences: Sophie Juback

            Everybody’s main goal when going to college is to graduate with their degree but college offers opportunities you may not get after graduation, like study abroad. Studying abroad can seem like it will interfere with your academic trajectory, but it can actually advance your academic experience while being able to have a great experience in another country. Study abroad is a great academic aid that lets you study while getting real-life experience in your language or culture, while also helping you promote yourself by increasing self-responsibility and by expanding your career and research options.

Brochures for study abroad that pertain to my environmental science and Japanese majors that would help advance my academic experiences

            My experience with studying Japanese language and culture has mostly been through a book and lectures. I’ve become very good at textbook conversations and vocabulary. Although I am experienced in these areas, the daily conversation between friends and acquaintances in Japan is not always the same. The dialogue or even tones can be different depending on who you’re talking to or where you are in Japan. Going abroad lets you get more real-life experience through conversations with those actually living in the country of your language or culture you’re studying. Not only do you get to practice your language and engulf yourself in that country’s culture, but by being in a foreign country, you are able to meet new people and see other perspectives that aren’t necessarily common in where you may be attending college.

Studying abroad also forces you to become more responsible for yourself. In college you may be distanced from your parents, which enables you to be more self-responsible, but you are still helped by other students and professors you may be close with. When you go abroad, you’re not going to have the same assistance that you’re used to. Even though it may seem like you’ve already become independent at college, abroad you’ll be responsible for tasks you haven’t been faced with. This will enable you to become more aware of your academic responsibilities, as well as advance your ability to succeed, at your home college and be able to figure out academic tasks without the aids you may have used in the past. It also gives you an opportunity to learn how to balance work and fun. Since you’re not only abroad to study, but to explore and learn about the culture and country itself, it is up to you to learn how to take advantage of both the academics and the experience.

At Emory, I have been exposed to new fields of studies and careers I did not even know existed before. Since Emory alone has an extensive amount of areas of studies that help expand your knowledge and guide you to find the area you want to have a career in, other countries must have many more. Even the U.S.A, as a whole, has a large range of jobs and research fields but if you look outside of the lens of your own country, the range gets even bigger. Going abroad lets you get a different perspective of the many job and research opportunities outside of the readily accessible ones already at your university. Going abroad also lets you look at careers where you are able to apply the knowledge gained from your language or culture studies.

Me at the Emory Study Abroad fair in September learning about the different offered experiences

Immersive Qualities

Question: How Does Study Abroad Affect the Academic Trajectory of a Foreign Language/Culture Student?

Immersive Qualities

For a foreign language and culture student, studying abroad is the ultimate dream. I know it has been a dream of mine since middle school to travel to another country and experience their customs, language, and culture. The benefits of such an experience are innumerable, but a few of the most pertinent ones are career opportunity, immersion, and perspective.

Studying abroad allows a student to finally (literally) see what they’ve been studying in classrooms for so long. This realization brings on a question that will cross every student’s mind, at least once during their stay: “Could I actually live here?” Depending on the study abroad program, the option to intern, get a job, or research is a very real possibility. These opportunities are usually gratifying in the sense that the student can determine if what they’re doing in this new environment is applicable to their home country, or if it is worth it to come back and stay. Having that opportunity at such a young age will give a student plenty of insight into their path with their foreign language and culture. 

Moreover, if anyone has looked up “how to learn a language,” one of the most popular suggestions is always to study abroad.  Immersion is proven to be successful in developing a student’s understanding of a language. Not only do they get to practice the language of that country, but they will also become familiar with colloquial language, which is helpful for the future and speaking to natives. This comprehensive experience gives a student a vision of the rest of their academic career and how they can expand and utilize their newfound knowledge.

The combination of these two experiences as well as several others will change a student’s perspective for life. While they are there, they will think and appreciate every meal, trip, and lesson they learn. When they go home, they will apply every skill they developed there and remember where it came from fondly. Perspective sparks everything great in the world – new ideas, zeal, and tenacity come with becoming globally competent. Academically, this is beneficial for the student and their teachers; they approach their assignments with more appreciation and excitement. 

As a first year at Emory, I have not had the opportunity to study abroad, but I traveled to Costa Rica for a week a couple of years ago. It was a Girl Scouts trip where we were able to do a cultural exchange with local teenagers in the area we were in. This trip meant a lot to me – I’d been wanting to practice my Spanish for so long, and I wanted to take in as much of the Costa Rican culture as possible. Even though my time there was short, my Spanish improved and I fell in love with the country… I can only imagine this experience would be magnified over a longer period. 

All things considered, a study abroad experience can ignite a new passion or give a student the push they’ve needed to follow that passion. No one leaves a study abroad experience the same because it changes a student personally and academically. Careers that a student may not have considered could become an option, having a more complete understanding of a language can propel a student to use it in ways they never imagined, and the way it impacts them will alter their mindset forever. A foreign language and culture student’s academic trajectory will be enlightened by the study abroad experience.

My friend and I posing with two girls at a school in Costa Rica – it changed my life!